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Poolish Play Part 3: Pain

…remember those baguettes I made? Yeah. Still making my pulse race, still making my mouth water. These are fine times to be bethini, which, frankly, I am. But the dough that brought such happy times also brings humility. Remember thou art mortal.

Plump and full of promise!

The shaping was easy: this dough was a dream to work with. Springy, full of air, easy to shape, but with a strong sense of well-developed glutens. Magnificent. Thing is: the emphasis was on the baguettes today. So the dough for both baguettes and batard was ready all at once. The baguettes rested for 15 minutes, got a shaping, then rose for 90 minutes, then baked for about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, the batard was shaped and left to rise for what ended up being slightly more than two hours. Experienced bakers will be smiling sympathetically (or maybe smugly, the buttholes) at this point, recognising the scenario. By the time the oven was free, the loaf had been rising for waaaaay too long. When it came time to slash, just before going in the oven, the tell-tale rumbling of the loaf’s skin, combined with the big obvious bubbles under the surface and the lack of spring when I slashed it…

Not a quilt.

…over-proofed. By a huge margin. Over-proofing, if I have understood things correctly, is when the yeast has been allowed to continue partying waaaaay too hard: the glutens in the flour can no longer support all the yeasts that have showed up. Like too many drunks dancing on the balcony singing Tubthumping, the whole thing is going to collapse, either hilariously or heartbreakingly, depending on your perspective. So when you put the loaf in the oven, instead of getting a loaf swelling and blooming with lush risefulness (is too a word), you get…

*sad trombone noise*

Yup. This is actually a really flattering photo: this loaf is only about three inches high. On any other day, this would have devastated me. But not today. Today, I was riding a glowing, triumphant, derby-winning thoroughbred named Umpteen Baguettes. So I wasn’t too fazed by the realisation that the stud named Batard I had just invested in was actually a dog with felt hooves tied on, as I would have been on other days. Instead, M and I trilled with laughter, declared it a fondue bread, and then flogged the servants for a while. Oh, how we laughed!

(Also: how awesome a horse name is Umpteen Baguettes?)

Bertinet, I ♥ you. Your baguette recipe has reinvigorated my interest in sourdoughs, fermented doughs, poolish and the like. And once I blissfully munch my way through my many, many wonderful baguettes, I’ll be back for more.

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